My favorite genre growing up has always been medieval. Stories like Lord of the Rings were a staple of my childhood, with Game of Thrones and The Witcher filling the void in my later years. But the problem is that, in the realm of video games, there aren’t a whole lot of engaging medieval games that capture what I want. I want a vast medieval world to explore so I can get new armor, fight evil villains, gallop over hills and through forests, and take part in sieges.
Then comes along Kingdom Come: Deliverance. An open world RPG set in first person, Warhorse Studios’ mission in creating this game is to give the player the complete experience of being a knight in the Kingdom of Bohemia. You start as the son of a blacksmith who seeks revenge against those who killed his family and, throughout the game, takes on the mantle of a knight.
The game is meant to be as realistic as possible, with a combat system modeled after real historical combat, rather than flashy moves seen in games like The Witcher. Your character needs to eat and sleep, food spoils over time, and armor needs to be repaired. The music is period accurate performed by Czech musicians, and everything else in the game is designed to be as accurate as possible. The castles were even designed with the help of architects and historians.
On the surface this sounds awesome. It’s a dream come true for fanatics of medieval history. But there’s one aspect that may drag the game down or help it soar through its uniqueness. All the medieval franchises I mentioned at the beginning of this article have one thing in common: they’re medieval fantasy. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is not. For some this is a major draw. For once they can use swords and armor without dragons and witches getting in the way of their historical experience. For others it might be a turn off. Medieval castles and cities aren’t typically as grand as in the fantasy genre. The medieval era is generally considered impressive mostly because of the legends and fantasy that are part and parcel of how we view the period in pop culture. In reality, it’s generally a lot less impressive.
Will the realism add to the world or detract? I’m not entirely sure, to be completely honest. I think some people might be mildly disappointed that it’s not fantasy-esque. But I also think there’s a major draw in being realistic.
So this all begs the question: how realistic is too realistic? Alfred Hitchcock famously said, “What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out?” And the same can be said about games. On paper, the idea of a “knight simulator” that encompasses nearly every aspect of the role sounds awesome. But is it? I imagine it will be interesting, if not fun, at first but after a while might get tiring. Is there enough flavor to spice up the game in a way that keeps people playing for hours?
The answer ultimately is that we’ll have to wait until release. But I can definitely speculate up until then. And I believe the fun in the game is going to rest on the shoulders of the quests and the combat. If the combat is engaging, challenging, and rewarding, then battles of any sort, be it sieges or against lone bandits, will be enjoyable. And missions are going to be what provides variety to what could otherwise be a horseback travel simulator.
The combat is designed to be as realistic as possible while providing a ton of variety through various moves and weapons, so if that pays off then it’s a huge plus for the game.
The missions are supposed to be nonlinear, so the ability to go about them in nearly any way we want could provide some unique experiences based on how we like to play. And, set against the backdrop of a deposed king trying to regain his kingdom from his evil brother, we might have some incredibly interesting stories to tell.
How much narrative drives the actual game remains to be seen, but the trailer does seem to imply that it’s a major part. So the story is another major aspect that will determine how well this game performs under review.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is unique in its wholly historical approach, and this could make or break the game. It might become the definitive medieval RPG or its level of detail could fall flat when people get bored by tedium. But I’m excited because, if the risks pay off, this game could quite possibly be one of the most impressive games of 2018.
Take a look at the trailer below and let us know what you think. Then tune back in a few months for the review. Hopefully we’ll have good things to say.